Tim Sylvia last competed inside the Octagon in February of 2008. That's little more than five years gone, but those five years seemingly span an entire era of UFC heavyweight fighting.
The contemporary landscape of the division bears essentially no resemblance to the one Sylvia ruled over. The roster has grown, gained depth and enjoyed the presence of some real star power.
With the the collective improvements made within the heavyweight class, there are many MMA fans out there who doubt Sylvia could survive these days, given his post-UFC run in the sport.
Sylvia, though, thinks he still has what it takes to make it on the big stage, and he wants the opportunity to prove it.
"Ideally I would like to finish out my career where it started and that is in the UFC," he recently explained on Knockout Radio. "There's great fights out there for me and I'd like to put on a great show for the fans on the biggest stage there is, and that's obviously the UFC."
The clock is ticking for the "Maine-iac," who is now 37. He plans to hang up his gloves at "40, 41 at the very latest," which means any sort of move to the UFC has to happen soon. It won't happen in the immediate future, however, as Sylvia is already booked to take on Tony Johnson at ONE FC 9 on May 31.
But even with his impending matchup, Sylvia continues to eye the UFC. He already has some potential opponents picked out for his return bout.
Sylvia tells, "Frank Mir, first and foremost. You know, unfinished business, man. He broke my arm and I wanted to keep fighting and they wouldn't let me, so I'm irritated."
But if he can't settle that grudge right off the bat, Sylvia would welcome slugfest.
I’d like to fight a striker so that we could put on a good show. I have a good friend, Pat Barry, who is in the UFC. I think if him and I fought it would be Fight of the Night or Knockout of the Night. Someone would go to sleep and it would be Fight of the Night.
But of course, before Sylvia gets either of these wishes, the UFC has to send him a contract and instruct him to sign on the dotted line. And that is something far from certain.
The former champion could help his cause a great deal by turning in an exciting performance later this month. If he fails to do so, the goal of a UFC return will seem nearly impossible.